Stacey M. Washington, Attorney and CounselorAttorney and Counselor
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Your 4th Amendment Rights During a Formal Vehicle Stop for Suspicion of DUI

Police-Car-2955341.jpgMichigan residents often make the mistake of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. Most drivers do not realize that even the consumption of the smallest amount of alcohol can result in a DUI.

If you are pulled over for the suspicion of DUI, it is important that you know your 4th Amendment rights while talking to the police officer. Read on to learn more.

Vehicle Traffic Violations

Under Michigan State law, in order for a police officer to stop you while driving, he/she must have a reasonable suspicion that you are about to commit a crime, in the process of committing a crime, or have just committed a crime. Reasonable suspicion usually occurs once you violate a traffic offense. For example, if you illegally change lanes or run a red light, this will provide an officer with the required reasonable suspicion to formally stop your vehicle.

Upon the officer approaching your car, he/she will ask to see your driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof and insurance. If the officer suspects that you may possibly be intoxicated, he/she may ask you questions regarding your whereabouts (example - if you have recently traveled to and from a bar, whether you have ingested any alcohol or prescription drugs that prohibit you from driving), or conduct a plain view examination of you and your car to see if there are any signs of intoxication.

Illegal Search and Seizure

Now, if a police officer is able to gather reasonable articulable evidence that you may be intoxicated (example - you show physical signs of intoxication and/or the police officer locates an open alcohol container is in your vehicle while performing a plain view search), then the officer may request for you to step outside of your car and perform a series of field sobriety tests, in addition to searching your vehicle.

You have the right to refuse to perform the field sobriety tests and the right to refuse a search of your vehicle. However, the officer will perform an inventory search of the vehicle prior to it being towed away and impounded if there is no sober driver available to take possession of the vehicle. You may refuse the inventory search but you may also lose valuables that will remain in the vehicle.

If the officer searches your vehicle and finds incriminating evidence such as a bag of marijuana, he/she may place you under arrest and charge you with illegal drug possession. The police officer can also obtain a warrant to perform a chemical blood test on you to determine your blood alcohol content level. If you are intoxicated, you will face DUI charges.

If the officer did locate contraband and incriminating evidence in your vehicle, you will likely face more criminal charges as well. This is why it is so important to assert your constitutional rights and refuse for your car to be searched in addition to refusing to perform any field sobriety tests.

If you have been charged with drunk driving in Ypsilanti, Michigan, contact me for a case consultation. I help defend Washtenaw County residents charged with drunk driving. Call 734-274-6567 or email me to schedule an appointment.

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